In the opener of the 2013-2014 Western Carolina University Catamounts Men’s Basketball season, the Catamounts won 77-55 to the Wittenberg University Tigers.
“It was a good opener, a good win for us and a good start,” said Catamounts Head Coach Larry Hunter.
Western Carolina came into this game after last season with a Southern Conference record of 9-9 and an overall record of 14-19.
The Catamounts’ opponent, the Wittenberg University Tigers, was a Division III team.
The Cats came out eager to play, but unfortunately with a plentiful amount of first game mistakes. The team was only 65.4 percent from the line and had 12 turnovers. However, the Cats’ energy was rewarded with a total of seven blocks, three by Justin Browning and two by Kenneth Hall. The Catamounts had a total of 14 steals.
Wittenberg started out in a zone defense, which the Catamounts took advantage of by driving the gaps and creating shots.
Hunter said, “I thought our depth in the first half with Mike Brown, Rhett Harrelson, Justin Browning and Torrion Brummitt was when we opened up a lead there to double digits.”
The Tigers transitioned to a man-to-man defense after the half. The Catamounts battled through with the Tigers with a steady double digit lead throughout the second half, which led to the 12-point win.
Tom Tankelewicz, a senior guard, said, “It always feels good to get a win against another team when we’ve been playing so much against ourselves in the preseason, just to get out there and smell some new blood and eventually get a ‘W’ felt good.”
Hunter was proud of the way the guys played.
“They never quit. They showed an awful lot of fight. I thought they executed very well. It really stressed us out, we gave up way too many threes, but they showed a lot of fight. I was really pleased with our defense. They are not an easy team to guard. I thought we showed a lot of energy,” said Hunter. “I thought for the most part we had pretty good shot selection for an opener. We executed fairly well. There are always some things that we have to work on, but for an opener, not bad.”
This game sparks some memories for the Catamount Head Coach Larry Hunter, who spent three seasons as an assistant coach and 13 seasons as Head Coach for the Wittenberg University Tigers. Hunter was awarded Wittenberg University’s Honorary Alumnus Award as well as place in the Wittenberg University Hall of Honor. Hunter also has close ties to Wittenberg’s Head Coach Bill Brown. Hunter coached Brown while he was coaching at Wittenberg, and Hunter has had Brown on his coaching staff.
WCU will be playing against UNC-Asheville at home on Monday, November 11 at 7 p.m. Afterwards, they are going on the road to Oregon and eventually Virginia.
“It’s going to be a really tough slate for us, but it is something we are capable of,” said Tankelewicz.